tv Democratic Senators on Iran War Powers Resolution CSPAN February 13, 2020 5:18pm-5:44pm EST
>> good afternoon folks. thank you for coming and i want to thank our colleagues here. i want to salute tim kaine. it's been a passion of his for years. somewhere between 17 and 18 years and tammy duckworth and tom udall have all been dedicated. i'm going to say a few words and i'll have to go and tim will
take over i guess. okay. what the senate did today behind the leadership of the colleagues who are behind me is what we should be doing every day working on a bipartisan basis to make a real impact for our country. it's a rare day here in the senate. i wish we didn't have to say that, but it is. the senate just sent a clear shot across the bow bipartisan majority of senators don't want the president waging war without congressional approval. that sums up the whole thing. the president does not have the authority to go to war. democratic and republican senators made that crystal clear no president, no president can sidestep congress when it comes to matters of war and peace or that's what the founding fathers embedded in our constitution. one of the most bedrock principles in america and we have to put uphold it and that's why we are here today. the president trump for any president cannot plunge the
united states into an ambush conflict in the middle east. today our constitution worked exactly as the framers wanted it to work. senators worked together to insert congresses authority and check on overreaching executive branch. democrats and the republicans stood up and said enough is enough. enough with an executive having too much leeway over the matters of war and peace enough unilateral escalation of hostilities. we stood strong for the principles that are country should not go to war without a vote of congress and now we wish there were more republicans supporting us but i think president trump certainly received his message. in the future more republicans will join us. we are sure of that. american people don't want endless wars and we have shown today the power of congress when we have members willing to make
decisions based on what the constitution and our constituents want, not what resident from bonds. we are supposed to use this power to prevent one branch from becoming too powerful and abusing our constitution. i hope and i pray this is not the last time that we will come together and make decisions on what her constituents want. i hope this is not the last time we will come together and the senate will put country ahead of party. senator cain's war powers resolution is a huge step in the right direction. it will correct decades of decaying congressional power but i want to commend senator cain, senator duckworth senator durbin senator udall in so many others. this has been a long labor. he didn't just happen like that and maybe miracles happen. the president will come to his
census because he knows it's the right thing to do. without let me turn it over to senator kaine. stinnett thanks to everybody and i'm going to be quick because i think others want to speak. i really appreciate the support of my colleagues think they know i've been a pest about this since i got here. i said the word passed to senator menendez my ranking on foreign relations and he said we have a different word for it in new jersey. it's been an obsession of mine. i just feel so deeply the sacrifice of our troops make an their families and friends make is just so massive that we owe them the most careful deliberations than any topic in our lives on the question of whether or not there should be war. congress under presidents of either party and this is a step in the right direction but i want to thank my colleagues on the democratic side.
we were on the phone the next morning saying we need to file this resolution. we got it filed within the hour and senator durbin and others join. i would acknowledge the republicans who helped too. some have a different view of executive legislative were making than we do but some more intrigue and said we'd like it better if you change this and change that and again they were good suggestions. it was the version that we worked out with many republicans who voted and they give us good suggestions to make it better and make it bipartisan. matters of war and peace should not need the providence of one party or the other. would be speak in a bipartisan way on a matter of war and peace we send a message to the troops that is a message of unity. that's what the troops and their families deserve. i loved working with my colleagues.
>> thanks tim and make no mistake we wouldn't be standing here today if it weren't for the efforts of senator kaine. he showed a mastery of the subject legislative skills and enormous patience and an incredible effort on his part to work through a series of amendments. some of which were literally amendments that would have ended our effort. thank you tim. time and again you and your team and all of us who support you are happy to be in that position. last year in the united states senate be considered 22 amendments in the entire year through 22 amendments in one year. we did six amendments today so first things first. the senate has the lights on the open for debating a few times. it's really refreshing and hardening and after what we have been through the beginning of this year i hope it's a sign of
things to come that will work together on a bipartisan basis and solve some problems but this was the right one to start the debate. it got to the very heart of our constitutional responsibility. the only branch of government with the power to declare war. i can remember when i was in high school and college at the time the vietnam war divided this country bitterly and at the end of the congress stepped up and said i hope we have learned a lesson. from this point forward congress needs to be in on the decision-making of going to war and the war powers act was introduced and passed over the veto of president richard nixon. jake javits the republican senator from new york said this of that effort to create the war powers act. he said congress has got to fight for his right to join in the awesome decisions of war and that i think puts the finger on it. it's an authority and the responsibility under the constitution. it is awesome because it's literally a matter of life and death when you vote on a declaration of war.
no one knows that better than my colleague senator duckworth who we you will hear from momentarily. the step forward to validate a role in the constitution and i sincerely hope the president will not veto this. if he does i hope it will validate more republicans on their side to join us. this gets to the heart of why we ran for the united states senate the constitution. next up the junior senator from illinois tammy duckworth. >> thanks senator durbin. this is something i've been working on since i was in the house of representatives and the one i was in the house i stood up against president obama's attempt to expand aumf to allow him additional actions back then even looking at syria. when i got over here to the senate it was one of the first
conversations i had about the need to sunset the previous aumf and have a real argument and debate over what the new authorization should be. i think it's very clear the constitution does not give the president the power to declare war. only congress has the authority and regardless of who is in the white house congressman's do its job. when i was recovering at walter reed there were protesters outside the hospital gates especially on friday when were wounded were flown in from afghanistan and iraq. they were at the gates where they'd have to go through those protesters. i was proud that they were there because they were exercising their right to free speech. but when our troops are downrange and their families are praying for their loved ones safety they need to know that they have the backing of the country and the very least the
backing of the full congress of the united states so they can do their job without having to worry about whether or not what they are doing is in keeping with what our government wants. this is why it's so important to have this debate on the amuf -- aumf to clarify the congress's role. president trump circumvented congress and launched an attack on general suwa money. while in glad he is met his maker that decision put everyday americans at greater risk because he did not have a good plan for how to react to the aftermath of the war. we have more troops deployed to the region. 15,000 more troops in the middle east today than there were when president trump took office over a man who said he would lower the number of troops under his watch we have 15,000 more. i think we need to have a
discussion on avoiding the expansion and the mission creep that happens. when i pointed out that secretary mark esper told me under oath the aumf the 18-year-old aumf with iran the administration pivoted to other excuses as to why they were conducting a strike against suwa money. the rationale included i care that we do this. i care about our troops and we truly care about our troops and america's role in the world. we need to be in a position of supporting the aumf and having discussions in congress but i'm so proud of the republicans who joined us in past their votes today. that's what the dash let's hope the president doesn't veto this so we can get on with bipartisan
work to make sure that we live up to the sacrifices of our troops. >> thank you tammy for that very moving statement. there was one thing she said that i think is particularly moving is military families want to know when their children are out there on the line that the u.s. government is fully behind them and we can talk about the constitution but that is a very important part of it. i know tim and his wife ann. he's got a son that's in the military. that makes a difference in tammy nosek knows it very well from her son service so today this is thank you tim. it's been great to be a part of your team and i think this is a wonderful bipartisan victory. today is a good day for the senate.
we stood up for the constitution and for the balance of powers in a bipartisan way. that's a big deal. it's pretty rare around here when it comes to some of these big constitutional issues. some people may be asking why now when the situation is defused somewhat. he answers this. under this president and his administration we know we will may -- be on the brink of war again. we are doubling down. they are doubling down on the failed maximum pressure campaign and this president is newly emboldened. he thinks he can do anything he wants under article ii and he keeps saying that in repeating it over and over again. it's necessary to act now before it's too late and i'm glad we did. the message we sent today is unequivocal and make no mistake this message is critical at this moment in time. we are not telling the president
-- we are telling the president congress has not signed off on war with iran and the american people do not support it. their chips and their families deserve a congress that takes the hard vote to determine whether we put them in harm's way. we can't stop here though. congress has so much more work to do to reassert their authority and to take back the power we ceded to the executive branch. thank you. >> are there questions? spent the prison cannot fund this with unending conflict. [inaudible] i know it's a process to undo this but are we really getting closer to genuinely ending this.
>> churchill has this great statement. this is not the end that it's not the beginning. it's the end of the beginning but i think it's the beginning of the beginning. congress has at abdicated his responsibility for so long that this vote shows congress and the senate getting back into it that it's only a start. we have to grapple with this question of iran. i have a bill with senator young and many co-sponsors to the repeal good to aumf's. we probably need to go back to the war powers powers act of the 1970s and updated to the current realities of cyber attack syndrome. it's big important and challenging but congress would rather hide it under the desk rather than dealing with it. today was a big step saying we are taking this seriously.
>> i spoke to senator sanders and senator lee and they thought that was the beginning of the end. that's the same type of issue. >> that would be a issue. we passed out last year out of the prosecution by the saudis. president trump vetoed it and we could override by president trump change behavior. we were attacking -- asserting the u.s. shouldn't be engaged in fueling jets in order to bomb iran. he vetoed the resolution but stop the u.s. and doing what we want them to stop. having that dialogue with the president we do not hurt ourselves by fully honoring our responsibility. the president is going to do what is going to do but we put this bill on his desk with strong majority of both houses.
it may influence his thinking on whether another war is a good idea or not. >> there's an identical measure. [inaudible] >> this one is a joint resolution so this will go to the house and the house understood we didn't take upstairs. theirs was a good ill for house purposes. didn't necessarily need the trip which requirements produce a simple majority vote slander simply take the bar version. it was likely that the house would take the bar version. >> he's and putting the bill on his desk whether it's a good idea or not. is there evidence that he hears you already and do you see any evidence? >> i'm very glad to talk to him
and senator duckworth may want to weigh in on this too. i don't think president trump is like well the senate doesn't like this. i guess i better do something else. he cares deeply about what the american public thinks of this so when the bill goes on his desk they have strong majorities in both houses. he knows this and we have been talking to constituents and listening to them and we know what they think about another war in the middle east right now specially worth it might be unnecessary and award that might have been a avoided had we not done the diplomatic bill. i know what virginians think about this. i know what folks from illinois are saying about this and when we put the bill on the president's desk he's going to know what americans think about this. i believe the it's not necessarily consistent by the sincere, we should probably be pulling away from some of these wars.
he says that over and over. he said it in the state of the union so i'm sure he could care less about what 55 votes in the senate means that a bill getting to his desk is an indication that we are listening to her constituents and telling him plundering into another war is a bad idea. he has an election that he's focused on that he wants to win and he's looking at the polls and what americans think of critical issues. there's no more critical issue than the war. when he gets on his desk he could care less about us at some point what he does care what the american public thinks a bill like this shows what they are thinking. if he vetoes that we can override it but he could veto it and just like the human situation. i don't know if senator duckworth would like to respond to that. >> we have to remember it began with the consequences of his action with general soleimani
and a number of cases of brain injuries that have now come to the forefront in the fact a result of him launching that attack he sent an entire brigade unannounced and i'm prepared without a lot of preparation. we have 15,000 more troops in the middle east than we did before he took office. all of those things will be taken into consideration. he's going to be looking back on the fact that hey or the way i call brain injuries headaches and another 50 troops are dealing with it. the lifelong injury that are wanted will have to deal with. he's dealing with the blowback from that he's looking now at the entitlement is tedious and over so this is something that he can hang his hat on or his thinking now we have a bipartisan group of senators who wishes forward and make them think twice about launching this
type of attack again then that's great. we are going to stop doing our jobs. we are the united states senate. we have to do our jobs and we in congress have to do our jobs. we were talking about the people chart -- protesting. that was with a war that the congress had voted to support project chips look back and they see that. art troupes they did know that we are united behind them when we send them off to war. so this is also a message gets to the president by the message to our military men and women. >> how about one last one. >> assuming a vetoes like they do think congress needs to look at launching a war powers
lawsuit on the administration? >> that is down the road. traditionally with one exception -- courts have traditionally been reluctant to grapple to referee between congress and the executive over the war powers question and send the notion that well the president is doing this and there hasn't been a foe. i would get tough court case my prediction to there've been a couple. as a lawyer before she was in congress i think it was set aside by the second circuit. this goes way back that i think we just need to keep building on what we have gained here which is more and more for bipartisan consensus. at a number of republicans came up to me and said i would vote for this. i don't want to vote for it in the middle of this most recent thing with iran but if it's part of the nda amendment, the farther we get away from 2001
the more people are on autopilot with the wars that have been going on for years. that's the best thing we can do is show a stronger and stronger bipartisan recognition. >> you can't continue to stretch the definition conducting activities in africa against the 9/11 attack for crying out loud. he can't stop doing our jobs because if a president who's out there doing whatever he wants to do. my 21-month-old toddler has better self-control than this president does. so just because he's doing what he wants we don't act to stop doing our jobs. my constituents voted for me to do my job and my job is to make sure when it comes to matters of war and peace i'm going to hold my colleagues accountable to that. our troops deserve nothing less.